11/24/2013 01:38 EST | Updated 01/24/2014 05:59 EST

18K to pack B.C. Place for women's pro soccer friendly

Nearly 18,000 people are expected to pack B.C. Place today to watch the Canadian professional women’s soccer team take on Mexico in a friendly match.

The last time the two teams met, Canada defeated Mexico to earn a spot in the 2012 Olympics.

“This stadium has always been like home for us, it feels like home. Who knows how many thousand people will be here and hopefully it’s just the start of things to come,” says Christine Sinclair, Canadian captain and Olympic veteran. 

Sinclair was at the centre of an international controversy last October, when FIFA suspended and fined her for “displaying unsporting behaviour” during a dramatic semifinal defeat to the U.S. at the London Olympics.

The unexpected success of Canada’s national women’s soccer team in London became a flash point of support for the squad, and local Vancouver teams are trying to help them capitalize on the new found attention.

Metro Women’s Soccer League offered teams an option to reschedule matches set for Sunday so that players could go to the game.

Coach John Herdman says support in this city is palpable, and seems to be growing.

“You see all the little girls turning up at the hotel today. There are lots of B.C. girls on this team. We qualified for the Olympics in this stadium, and hopefully this is where the World Cup final will be. And we’ll be there, fingers crossed,” he told CBC News.

The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be hosted in Vancouver, along with five other Canadian cities.

Today, however, all sights are set on the game at hand, says Canadian midfielder Brittany Baxter.

“The Mexicans are always ready to play us. It’s always going to be an intense, fun game to watch. Both teams know each other pretty well so there’s never a dull moment,” she says.

“Some of my best memories are playing in the Olympic qualifying in January and seeing all the Canadian flags.”

The match is set to begin at 1 p.m. PT at B.C. Place. Tickets are still available.